Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Elixir Proprietatis

Title page to Every Man His Own DoctorThe market is flooded with medical self-help books: there is a cure for whatever ails you, be it a medication, a mind/body connection, or any number of supplements. The genre has a long history, as we discovered last week when looking at John Archer's Every Man His Own Doctor (London: Printed for the Author, 1673). The title page promises practical and simple advice for preventing disease, and there is an extended herbal attached listing the various healing powers of common English flora. There is even an "Infallible Secret" to prevent the Pox.

But, if everything else fails, there is an entry at the end of the book for "Elixir Proprietatis" that will cure pretty much anything. It is made from the "Quintessence of the best of Vegetables" and cures:
all Agues or Feavers, quartan, tertian or quotidian; also all astmahs, Palsies, Convulsions, Falling sickness, Consumptions of the Lungs, all decays in the vital and noble Parts, resisting Corruption, Crudities....

Advertisement for Elixir Proprietatis
It goes on for quite a while longer. Now, every man might be his own doctor, but don't expect a recipe for the Elixir Proprietatis. To get this wonderful cure, you will need to find your way to Dr. Archer's house in Winchester Street, "being the Sign of the Golden Ball near Broad Street, London," to buy it.

To learn learn the secret for preventing the Pox, ask for Rare R128.7.A37.

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